AFP Kabul Chief Photographer Shah Marai was killed today in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan. The blast was clearly targeting journalists — at least eight others were among the 25 people killed in the attack.
Marai and the other journalists had been rushing to the scene to cover an initial suicide bombing in the Afghan capital when the second suicide bomber struck 15 minutes after the first blast.
“The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd,” a local policeman stated, according to the AFP.
The Islamic State group (IS) has since claimed responsibility for the bombings.
#UPDATE Agence France-Presse's chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, has been killed.
He died in a blast that was targeting a group of journalists who had rushed to the scene of a suicide attack in the Afghan capital pic.twitter.com/rOa4rg24x9
— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 30, 2018
The famed Afghan photographer originally joined AFP in 1996 as a fixer and driver before becoming a photographer in 1998. He eventually became chief photographer for the AFP Kabul Bureau and had over 18,000 of his photos distributed by the agency.
In 2016, Marai shared his fear of being killed by a suicide bomber in an article written for AFP, titled “When hope is gone“:
But there is no more hope. Life seems to be even more difficult than under the Taliban because of the insecurity. I don’t dare to take my children for a walk. I have five and they spend their time cooped up inside the house. Every morning as I go to the office and every evening when I return home, all I think of are cars that can be booby-trapped, or of suicide bombers coming out of a crowd. I can’t take the risk. So we don’t go out. I remember all too well my friend and colleague Sardar, who was killed with his wife, a daughter and a son while on an outing at a hotel, with only his small son somehow surviving the attack.
I have never felt life to have so little prospects and I don’t see a way out. It’s a time of anxiety.
Here’s a 1.5-minute video released by the AFP today with a selection of some of Marai’s photographs over the years:
“This tragedy reminds us of the danger that our teams continually face on the ground and the essential role journalists play for democracy,” says AFP Chairman Fabrice Fries. “Journalists were targeted by this attack. Our thoughts and our condolences go out to his family and the families of the other journalists killed.”
Social media is being flooded with tributes to Marai by other journalists in Afghanistan and around the world:
On days like this, truth sucks. Truth hurts.
Yes it's true, and confirmed. Our friend, the great photographer Shah Marai, is among the dead of the second Kabul explosion this morning.
He was doing his job, like he had over two decades.
— Mujib Mashal (@MujMash) April 30, 2018
RIP our friend Shah Marai, a great, great man, who led the @AFP bureau through the dark days after Sardar's passing. Marai was the proud, upbeat, laughing cornerstone of the team for so many years. pic.twitter.com/3xw3tJVtIB
— Ben Sheppard (@MrBenShep) April 30, 2018
Devastating news. Can't believe Shah Marai – my brother, friend, colleague – is no more. This is an irreparable loss. Such a sad day for journalism. https://t.co/OzeCMzNdpK
— Anuj Chopra (@AnujChopra) April 30, 2018
Agence France-Presse's chief photographer in Kabul Shah Marai, who was killed covering a suicide bombing on Monday, was a charismatic, courageous journalist who was dedicated to reporting on Afghanistan's wrenching conflict. His @AFP obit: https://t.co/Z1mYPDjHTS pic.twitter.com/4BN02FRqTr
— Dmitry Zaks (@dmitryzaksAFP) April 30, 2018
Deep sorrow at news of death of Shah Marai, AFP chief photographer in Kabul – killed in this morning's second explosion in the city, carefully timed to kill first aiders and journalists like Shah. Afghanistan needs people with his courage.
— John Simpson (@JohnSimpsonNews) April 30, 2018
— Ahmad Mukhtar (@AhMukhtar) April 30, 2018
Attacks on a free press insult the memories of every reporter who has given his or her life for this job. That’s more important than hurt feelings or scandalized laughter at fancy dinners. RIP Shah Marai, Ebadullah Hananzai and the other journalists killed in Afghanistan today.
— Sulome Anderson (@SulomeAnderson) April 30, 2018
— SaadAbedine (@SaadAbedine) April 30, 2018
We lost another great friend, Shah Marai, and a number of journalists today. pic.twitter.com/brRo1EiMIZ
— Fahim Abed (@fahimabed) April 30, 2018
This is @shahmarai’s hometown in northern Kabul where we buried him today. The preacher was told by villagers that Marai was the founder and donating member of newly built mosque at his village. We’ve lost such a great man and friend. RIP #Kabul pic.twitter.com/ebCFh6wFyG
— Ehsanullah Amiri (@euamiri) April 30, 2018
AFG lost some of its best eyes today. One @shahmarai came from a family of many unable to see. Including his oldest son. Walked & sat by the fresh gravestone,he heard a sermon on how his father’s “heaven” will be greener than Guldara—valley of flowers—he was laid to rest in. pic.twitter.com/mOBaqUGUh8
— Haseeb Humayoon (@HHumayoon) April 30, 2018
Marai leaves behind six children, including a baby daughter that was born just weeks ago.